CAMPAIGNERS are warning that Bahrain could record its highest sickle cell death toll this year, with an average of more than six patients dying every month since January.
Two Bahraini patients - Wajeeha Al Jamri, 48, and Sayed Hussain - died on Friday night at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC).
This means 19 sickle cell patients have died since the start of the year.
"I really do not understand why the deaths have not stopped and this also raises a big question mark on the quality of health services provided to sickle cell patients," said Bahrain Sickle Cell Anaemia Patient Care Society president Zakreya Al Kadhem.
He told the GDN that Mr Hussain's health condition worsened when he was in Iran.
When he returned to Bahrain he said he suffered from kidney failure and internal bleeding, while Ms Al Jamri died of other complications.
"We registered 32 deaths last year and lost 45 patients in 2012," said Mr Al Kadhem.
"This year, from January until this month, we have already lost 19 patients and if this continues we are looking at more than 70 deaths by the year-end.
"According to latest figures, in the past five years our society has registered 280 deaths among sickle cell patients."
Bahrain opened the Hereditary Blood Disorder Centre in February and it was hoped the specialist facility would improve sickle cell care.
The BD4.7 million facility at SMC is the largest of its kind in the region and covers more than 15,000 patients - including around 5,000 sickle cell anaemia sufferers.
"Something is terribly wrong and I have no answer to it," added Mr Al Kadhem.
"What I feel is that instructions by His Royal Highness the Prime Minister and the Health Minister are not being followed by the officials concerned."
Health Minister Sadiq Al Shehabi said in February that the number of newborns with sickle cell disease in the 80s was 21 per 1,000, which has now dropped to four per 1,000.
The minister further said that infection rate of sickle cell anaemia disease dropped from two per cent in the 1980s to 0.4pc in 2010.